Consider entering the 2018 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers of Romance– here’s why…

If you are an unpublished author in any romance genre and want to get your manuscript in front of an agent or publisher, get ready to enter the 2018 Orange Rose Contest. 


I am Kathleen Rowland and want to help you succeed. 

The 35th Contest for Unpublished Writers opens on January 15, 2018. The Orange Rose Contest is one of the programs hosted by the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America® that helps fulfill our purpose of promoting excellence in romantic fiction and advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers. Our contest has been fortunate to realize a high level of popularity and success due to the exceptional quality of our participating judges. Mid-January is when you can download score sheets from and submit your beginning pages with a brief synopsis before the contest closes at the end of April. Did you know agents and editors seek fresh, vibrant, and unique voices? Is this you?  This contest gives every author who enters three critiques.  Authors in the final round will receive critiques from editors or agents in their category. 

Would you like to know what qualities and tropes publishers are looking for right now? As the 2018 chair for this contest, I am sharing this insider information to help you make your big dream come true.

·       Strong conflicts where the characters’ goals are in opposition to one another

·       Physical action-oriented heroines (martial artists, MMA fighters, etc.)

·       Enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romances

·       Adventure quest style romances (think Indiana Jones or Ready Player One but with more kissing!)

·       1930s-style fast patter bantering

·       Diverse romances that showcase heritage, ethnicity and cultural practices

·       Romances that also feature very strong friendships/BFF characters

·       Gender role reversals or defiance of gender role stereotypes ( i.e. biker heroine, preschool teacher hero)

·       Post-apocalyptic romances grounded in realism (think Battlestar Galactica)

·       Couples who aren’t interested in a nuclear family-style existence


Here are qualities and tropes that editors and agents are presently not looking for:

·       First-person POV (usually better suited for New Adult, chick lit or women’s fiction than romance)

·       One or more “evil exes” as the main source of conflict to a romance — the conflict should be interpersonal between your leads.

·       Telling rather than showing and long exposition/information dumps

·       Characters without any goals besides finding love

·       Alpha heroes that are insulting and condescending to their heroines

·       Couples that fall into insta-love when they meet and never truly face any conflict

·       Relationships where the characters’ only bar to getting together is fear from past bad relationships (Everyone has insecurity and angst, but the only way a character can resolve these things is through internal epiphany. That isn’t enough to hang a story on.)


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